Stanford’s Graduate School of Business frequently says that it seeks applicants who "have excelled by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well." While Stanford GSB uses this phrase frequently, many other programs seek that quality too
Last week I saw the excellent documentary, Paperclips. It tells of a seemingly ordinary middle school principal and two of her teachers in a tiny hamlet in rural Tennessee who want to teach their isolated students about diversity. They decide their students should study the Holocaust. Because the eighth graders couldn’t grasp the enormity of it, the teachers and students decide to collect paper clips – one clip for each of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. This seemingly typical history project turned into a remarkable event that garnered international attention, transformed the students and teachers, and galvanized a small Southern town into building its own lasting memorial to all the victims of Hitler’s tyranny.
Paperclips shows what can happen when a small group of people with limited resources (and a lot of luck or blessing, depending on your theological bent) commits. And while I certainly don’t expect you to collect millions of paper clips or transport cattle cars around the world, I am positive that this inspiring movie will provide an extraordinary lesson in attributes that all admissions committees value: